Table Tennis

Trip Start Jun 12, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mongolia  ,
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Breakfast seems to be included in the price of our room so Sally and Nora usually start the day in the hotel restaurant.  And in any case it's a convenient place to meet up at the start of the day.

They walk in... and a minute later they have breakfast in front of them...  I walk in and at the counter the waitress looks over at me, mouths шар айраг, the Mongolian for beer, I nod and a couple minutes later I have a draught beer in front of me. 

We were inside today for breakfast as there's some type of tree all around the city that sheds what looks like cotton.  There was so much of it in the air that it looked like it was snowing.  It looks great but it's so annoying as it tickles as it brushes against your face.

Today at the congress there's table tennis on the programme.  So I'll be doing that while Nora and Sally shop...

At the congress I try to sign up for a day-card as I haven't registered at all, but at the registration counter, they either can't understand my Esperanto or they have never heard of the concept of a day-card.   Admittedly this is a relatively small congress and even at the world congress not everyone would realise that there'd be such a thing. In any case I finally gave up about the day-card and just wandered around getting a feel for what the congress was like as I waited for the table tennis to start.

Normally with a small congress like this I'm happy to pay, but in the end I was really happy that I didn't as I was rather irked by the fine print on the registration form - namely, that if the congress doesn't take place, for whatever reason, there is no refund.  This seems so mean-spirited to me and so businesslike, not what I'd expect from Esperanto.

There were a few people milling around... although there perhaps weren't actually enough to justify the use of the word mill.

There were a handful of booths set up and I had a chat with a few people.  But it all looked pretty quiet.  There certainly seemed to be quite a bit of interest in the lectures but that's not really what would drag me to a congress.

In fact I chatted to this Korean girl who had no interest in the lectures at all but liked to just go to the congresses to use Esperanto and to chat to people.  Possibly even more common, especially with the congress being in a country as exotic as Mongolia, is that people come just for the tourist side of things.  Definitely the organisers need to do more to cater for those that come just to use Esperanto and to socialise.

As for the table tennis on the programme, it was organised by a couple of Japanese Esperanists.  There was no lecture or anything, they just set up a table and a few of us interested in table tennis had a hit.  I'm afraid that I hogged the table a fair bit but as I was the only non-Asian at the table tennis I felt that they didn't mind.  Plus I was playing pretty well, despite the difficult conditions; i.e. the table was really old and the surface was attrocious.

After the table tennis I hung around a bit but there wasn't much going on in the congress centre so I walked back to meet the others for tea.

We ate hot-pot at a really fancy restaurant near our hotel with Odko's parents who were visiting from Darkhan.  The restaurant was in fact fancy enough to be at least as fancy as any restaurant in Tasmania.  But was this Mongolian hot-pot?  Well, I'm not sure it exists.  The name of the restaurant was in English and the style was identical to Chinese hot-pot as far as I could see.  But the restaurant was first-class.  I ordered some horse meat but decided to put off ordering the bull's penis till another time.  Especially as Odko's parents were shouting us and it might seem a bit frivolous to order a dish just to look at it and laugh a lot... and perhaps prod it a bit and take photos...

Of course we finished off with a group photo as we said our good-byes.  It was great to get to meet Odko's parents. 

Will I go to another congress?  Absolutely.  I don't do Esperanto because I think it will take over the world.  I like the concept and the people that it attracts.  It's just that in theory, one must keep thinking that it will become more wide-spread, but the fact that it hasn't doesn't really matter... it's still an interesting concept and it makes the world more interesting.  And who can argue with it's egalitarian concepts? 

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from Odko on

Hi Robert! Your blog seems like you guys are being with me now. I am really happy to receive new story of your trip. My parents still asking me you. Now they are in Darkhan. Also they said you greetings! Please tell to Sally and Nora that my parents' greetings and also mine. If i read your blog's every new news, i think i can improve my English by your blog. :-) ok good luck

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